Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Expanding the toolbox

It's been a fight to get any kind of work after they handed me my diploma.  I can't say they didn't warn me.

My strategy since then is to broaden a bit, starting trickling my efforts back over to the other sets of skills that I didn't focus on, since I can't seem to pick and choose where I will be working.  Animation, and rigging for example, are things I'm going to focus some more research on.

I do like animation, I just became more attracted to the call of the fancy shaders and the science of light, the swiss-army-knife of tricks and techniques.  Animation is "less to learn", but I feel it's far more to practice, and a less definitive answer to "is it good?" in all cases.

Now rigging, theoretically, I love.  It's a little bit like programming, a little bit like model-building, and even a tiny bit artistic.  But, it requires a lot of research.  I don't yet have experience rigging something really complicated, just ole' Wasabe.  So, I asked Kuan Qian to loan me a character.

Kuan Qian's "Lizard Man" model, with the beginnings of a rig
It's coming along, though right now it can't do much that I couldn't make a rig do before.  My goals, however, is to explore features like having flesh deform when it's compacted, stretchy-IK, and whatever else I can think of.  I'm aiming for a clean, usable, error free rig that will be animator friendly to the maximum.

On the outside, it's less glamorous, but I do admit, it gives me the same sort of thrills of tinkering with ornate things.  I'm gonna push in this direction now.

I've got tutorials to watch, rigs to examine, stuff to read before I can catch up.  All the while, I still search for work; it'd be nice to be able to eat while I research.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Demo Reel

A short snappy selection of my most choice work during my education:



Sunday, 24 March 2013

Wasabe Law

Hey friends,

Me and Siva Ananthamoorthy finished making our first short film.

We like it.  Enjoy.



It was quite a long hack to get this made, but indeed it was during other classes.  Due dates were stretched time and time again.  There are a few kinks, and much I would change had the due date not bore down upon us as it did, but I think we reasonably achieved our goal.

It made my little nephew laugh, and it made my tough teacher laugh.  So it's all in all a success in my books.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Shut Down!

By no means have my adventures concluded, but I just signed something that said I can't tell you anything about what I'm learning any more, except the occasional bit of research I do "on my own".  How much time is there for that?  In my experience, always much less than you think.

There's soon going to be a post about the Short Film, how it went, and where to see it.  After that, I'm not sure what'll appear here-- "What I'm Working On" is not going to be publishable legally for at least a little while.

So what is this site now?  Probably the new home of a portfolio or something.  It's all up in the air.  But it's gonna be frozen on this entry and the one about the short film for some time.

Stick around for Wasabe Law.  After that, I'm off to work on high-tech trade secrets.  Thanks for reading.  

Bye.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

"Finished" and what it does and doesn't mean

"Done" seems to be kind of a mythical concept around here, more an ideal than a reality that can ever be met.  In the schools of my young life, doing hard work guaranteed not only being "finished" but being praised, and considered to be "accomplished."  I also barely bothered with hard work or diligence in grade-school, and I fully suggest that young people reading this shouldn't bother either-- but that's a controversial aside for another time and place.

Around here, we aren't taught by teachers, we are taught by people working in the industry.  Often these people are working in a studio or lab in the very hours before they arrive at the college.  When critiqued, we never hear something like "for a student, that's great work," or even "you can do better," -- we are treated like it is our career already, and we learn what sinking or swimming feels like.  We hear grimmer things than that.  The feeling you get when they critique you, (starting with that first bitter-cold lack of reaction when you first play it on the projector, all the way to the part when they speak of your work not as your herculean effort for ten weeks but rather steep pile of errors and oversights) is a feeling I likely won't ever learn to take nonchalantly.

But still, it's a far better feeling than spending your hours working on something you do not care at all for.  So coming to college was the right idea.

When I finished Room 203 a few days back, I knew there was things wrong with it, but I decided there wasn't enough wrong with it for me to continue work on it, especially with so much else to get done for the important and fast approaching due dates.

Let's hold that thought and watch it:



I was initially going to write about what is missing and incorrect in this, both the errors I knew were there and the errors my teachers critiquing found there.  But, weirdly, I know that the un-savvy won't see much wrong with it, and just like supportive friends do, they'll say (unhelpfully,) that it's great.  Which is nice, for a few seconds, and since I'm tired as all hell and ultimately proud I learned how to do this in a year, I'll drink those few seconds up.  Then I'll pop back with a post later about my tragic, unforgivable oversights, and make you see them too.  I'll be doing this because getting into the habit of believing you've done good enough is the one true evil around here.  You don't say "It's finished", because those are bad words.  You say "I will finish" like a mantra, at 4am when your eyes sting, then you stop working when time is up or something else starts to matter more.  You're never going to be finished.




Friday, 8 March 2013

Never too Patient, Never too Careful

There are so many little tiny nuances that should be planned for, so many little things that can go wrong.  Backtracking in the real field I fear will be expensive and not always an option.

Right now, I'm facing more render troubles.  In the short film, there is one "space" to deal with.  In this new VFX project, the simulated inter-playing with the real provides more stumbling blocks.

Current, I'm dealing with nothing too confounding, nothing too technical as I bring this to a close, but the tiny unforeseen problems are taking just as big a bite out of my time.


During certain frames one distant wasp will be behind objects in the plate.  No big deal, -- just roto it.  It was in my plan all along.  But it'll also be behind the wasp in the foreground in that frame as well.  So with one input for the wasps all together, this won't do.  There needs to be two separate layers of wasp render.  So, it's re-render time.  Luckily, it's not the most expensive render I've done thus far, clocking in at below five minutes at it's worst, and below three during the inexpensive frames.

The only thing that bothers me is that it was done.  Or so I thought.  How many times is this going to happen to me in my career?  I hope I learn to see this stuff coming sooner rather than later.

If this gets done in a timely fashion, I'm going to get to meet with one of my instructors who's got some years under his belt in compositing.  When then happens I'm gonna come back around and do a long entry on neat things like simulating film-grain and chromatic aberration to achieve the final convincing tweaks and make it look like these monsters are in the room and ready to attack Harsh and Kuan... just like they deserve.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Hacking a little MEL

I felt for a while I knew how to "use" Maya, but now after getting a real good final lesson in scripting here at the college, I think I finally have a sense of how to really seize greater control than before.

Besides the two large final projects, I had to complete a short course in scripting.  Now I've got a long past making programs for fun, making indie video-games in years prior, so I felt I had a solid foundation in how to write a solid script.  So my final project is a little tool that can be handy if you go through multiple work flows the way a student usually does.  It wasn't so challenging, and in the world of scripting it wasn't a huge feat, but what excites me is that if I keep this up, I'll be able to move faster in Maya, much faster than previous, hopefully comfortably automating large processes.



Often, when switching between three distinct types of work, rigging, animating, and creating playblasts, I'd have to go to the model panel and select a series of which type of object to make visible.  Each task requires a different handful of settings, and they are tedious.  I made a simple Model Panel Macro control.  It works, and it's quick.  Simple, really.  But the speed it could add his huge.  I'm sure people are doing things like this all the time-- and now I'll be working as fast as those people.  Studios love a fast worker, I bet.  What about a worker who makes his co-workers faster while he's at it?

In a world with tough deadlines, I hope I can learn to script solutions quickly and efficiently with no surprises.  One doesn't want to lose time in their efforts to gain time.